The Tasting Panel magazine

July 2010

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Page 51 of 96

SPECIAL REPORT: ITALY Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini Tenuta Il Ghizzano, Tuscany Like many other Italian women who find themselves running a winery, Contessa Ginevra Venerosi did not set out to be a vintner. Her family, successful in the phar- maceutical business, owns a weekend estate in the countryside, just south of Pisa; it has been the property of the family since the end of the 14th century. Grapevines and olive trees had always been cultivated there, but in 1985 Ginevra’s father Pierfrancesco decided to upgrade the vineyard and the quality of wine being made. The vineyards were replanted and the cellar was modernized. Ginevra, who worked in publishing, agreed in 1993 to devote some time to administrative work; this eventually grew into a full-time managerial position. Currently, the winery, Tenuta Il Ghizzano, produces four different wines—three reds and a vin santo. Il Ghizzano is mostly Sangiovese with a small amount of Merlot; Veneroso is Sangiovese blended with Cabernet Sauvignon; and Nambrot, the top of the line, a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. San Germano, the sweet vin santo, is made from a blend of local white grapes. Taking her proprietorship very seriously, Ginevra devotes herself full time to the winery and is involved at every level of its management, from harvesting to marketing. “I love what I’m doing,” she smiles. —ADB HENRIOT USA Cristina Mariani-May Banfi, Tuscany Anthony Dias Blue with Cristina Mariani-May. Banfi is one of the great success stories in American business history. John and Harry Mariani inherited a small Long Island importer from their father. On a trip to Italy, searching for wines to import, they stumbled upon an obscure, slightly sparkling red wine made near Parma. The wine was Lambrusco, and the Marianis imported a few hundred cases, but not before they tweaked the wine by adding a little sweetness to appeal to the U.S. market. The wine, called Rinuite, became a sensation which, at its peak, sold more than 12 million cases a year in the United States. With the profits from this wine, the Mariani’s bought thousands of acres of prime vineyard land around the Tuscan town of Montalcino (as well as an estate in Piedmont) and reshaped the vineyards with giant earthmovers. They have become one of the leading producers of wine in Italy as well as one of the most successful importers in America. In charge of this huge organization is Cristina Mariani-May and her cousin James Mariani, who share the title of CEO. Christina is the energetic, char- ismatic and charming face of the company, leading tastings, seminars and marketing meetings while at the same time raising two sons and a daughter. She travels the world and was an important presence at Vinitaly this year. Christina is responsible for every aspect of the Banfi operation, including the lovely new Il Borgo hotel in Montalcino. —ADB BANFI VINTNERS july 2010 / the tasting panel / 51 Contessa Ginevra Venerosi Pesciolini of Tenuta Il Ghizzano. Italian Organizations Supporting Women ONILFA Founded in 1997, ONILFA’s main purpose is to further the education and promotion of female enterprise and labor in the agricultural and rural sectors. Le Donne del Vino Le Donne del Vino (Women in Wine) is a national associa- tion of female producers, cater- ers, wine retailers, oenologists, sommeliers and journalists. Established in 1988, the group currently has approximately 750 members. PHOTO COURTESY OF TENUTA IL GHIZZANO

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